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When did you use a biro?

Updated on April 18, 2015

When was the last time you used a pen to write? Give up? For me it must have been a long, long time. Gone are the days when fountain pens, biros, and pencils used to be part of our central writing life. Gone are the days when our fingers got stained in ink of various blue blobs and stretch marks. And for that matter gone are the days when we used to casually write on our palms the telephone number of an acquaintance or friend or even a date.

These are now old paraphernalia stuff. In a world of hi-tech, IT, computers and vast changing technologies, the ink pen, biro and probably the pencil have become old fashioned and old news exaggeratingly relegated to the bin of history, as the 20th century Marxist theoretician Leon Trotsky would say.

Of course that would be a simplification because these are still essential for society's writing habits and have developed and mellowed from ancient times to the present starting with the quill pen of feathers, bamboo sticks, reed brushes and going back to 3000 BC.

In fact research into this is fascinating because it shows the extent of Man went though in the past millennia to put his thoughts on paper. Indeed, it shows much ingenuity and the extent which humans were willing to invent writing tools to document the glories of their thoughts and document the tribulations, tantrums and velocities of life.

Today, while the traditional pen would certainly continue to exist but would certainly undergo new changes because of our rapidly moving technologies, our choices have become much more variegated.

The pen, the arch sustainer of culture and civilization would almost certain to continue to exist, however, it would, as already done so, become more adaptive to cultural trends and values and to the continuing movements of technologies.

Before it was the typewriter that itself went into stages of development and then it was quickly replaced by the computer as much more efficient ways of putting thoughts on paper. Could they be regarded as new highly advanced technological forms of pens, silly, maybe, with the traditionalists saying commit that man. But why not?

Instead of using the pen, utilize the computer keyboard, it's much more efficient, clicking as fast as you can think of to get ideas through. Fanciful thought, but in the end wouldn't writing and the tools that go with it are really a flight of fancy?

Many of us haven't used fountain and ballpoint point in literally decades, about the time when the home PC became available on the market. I remember at the timeā€”the early and mid-1980s when the biro ceased to function as a tool for bodily representation of ideas.

I had of course in the previous decade used the fountain pen with its bottle of black and blue ink. I was very young then but it was seen as a sign of prestige as my father used to say. There was a sort of regalian feel about it, unscrewing the cartridge, opening the ink bottle, ease into, squeeze, wipe, and then start the writing process.

But as I grew older and moved to the ballpoint pens and the cheap biros as an effective means of writing, some of the tradition begun to wear off. As I quickly moved on to the computer and its keyboard I came to yearn for ink on paper and the actual writing; and of having a fountain pen in your hands with the ink occasionally gushing out and spreading across your hands and you having to use pink blotting paper to minimize writing damage.

These were they days. Today it's probably hard enough to find blotting paper with the market dictated by supply and demand, as was the case with the typewriter.

I guess everything has to stand for the chop at one time or another, the pen might be one of them, but it surely won't become a dying breed.


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    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Cheers, it always struck me as somewhat odd that I don't really use the pen as a method of writing. Nowadays, and for a long time actually, the mode has been the keyboard and when I want something on paper, I use the printer. The pens and pencils are only used for the odd scratches here and there. Gone are the days, for me anyways and I imagine quite a lot of people when letters, essays, long reports used to be written in ink; when in fact the hand and the fingers would tire from long and neat scrolls and tapestry on paper. Now its just the fingertips that might get sore.

    • BakerRambles profile image

      BakerRambles 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Very interesting hub, I really appreciate how you made the pen seem legendary. I myself as a writer feel that the art of writing should never perish, but like most old things, it must be forever stashed in an antique store of retro appeal. Voted up and interesting

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 6 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      I love fountain pens as well as ballpoints. As I am a teacher too, I am often in touch with pens, papers and pencils, but if it would not be for teaching, I don't think I will be attached with any of these. Though, it is a pity for such wonderful things, but technology have ruined the traditional styles. Hypocrite me - I prefer digital things for writing :)

    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      So do I, sometime I switch to the biro or the pencil you write notes before using the computer. It brings back cherished memories. You are right there is more of a connection to paper and the printed world when using a fountain pen

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 6 years ago from USA

      Much as I love my computer, I still enjoy using a pen or pencil to write now and then. There is something so much more personal when holding a pen or pencil to write, or maybe writing with a pen makes me feel more connected to my writing. I did enjoy reading your article and could identify with using a fountain pen. I really did love to use a fountain pen!

    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Thanks, something different

    • profile image

      Charlene Mariano 6 years ago

      This is a hub worthwhile to be read.

    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 6 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Cheers .josh I appreciate your comments, yes it is a pity, sometimes changing times are not so great

    • .josh. profile image

      .josh. 6 years ago

      This is a wonderfully written hub, and one I really enjoyed reading. I personally love the fountain pen - probably a rarity for my generation - and continue to try to do at least some of my writing 'the old fashioned way.' (And never, ever with a ballpoint.)

      I agree that pens aren't going anywhere, if only for writing shorthand on post-it's and prescription pads, but I do think the art of writing is vanishing, which I find quite unfortunate.

      Really well written hub, Marwan. Voted up, interesting & beautiful.